Apr 25, 2024

For Identical Twin R&B Duo, Big Dreams Come with Big Plans for Giving Back

Reporting Texas

THEBROSFRESH perform at citizenM Hotel’s grand opening in downtown Austin. The group has built a strong and loyal following by playing local shows. Anissa Sanchez/Reporting Texas

The Austin-based identical twin R&B duo THEBROSFRESH may be on the verge of stardom.

Torrence and Thurman Thomas, 34, have yet to sign a deal with a record label, but they regularly fill popular Austin music venues such as C-Boy’s and Continental Club, and they have inked contracts as brand ambassadors with Nike and Volkswagen.

Torrence, who plays bass and sings, envisions achieving success as a staircase. At the very top of it sits their goal of selling out stadiums and mentoring others to do the same.

“We’re stepping towards it,” Torrence said.

Thurman, lead guitarist and vocalist of the group, says passion, timing and being open to new opportunities are fueling the group’s rise.

“It’s a good time to be in the game,” he said.

The brothers say they are as passionate about giving back to the community as they are about finding musical success. They founded and run Tankproof, a nonprofit that provides free swim lessons and operates a weekly food distribution in East Austin.

“That’s where I get a lot of my joy,” Torrence said.

TheBrosFresh perform at C-Boy’s Heart & Soul in Austin in January. The brothers celebrated their birthday with a show at the venue with friends, family and fans in attendance. Anissa Sanchez/Reporting Texas

Raoul Hernandez, former Austin Chronicle music editor, says he noticed the brothers when they hosted the Austin City Limits Music Festival livestream in 2022. It was their “innate charisma and ease with each other and people around them” that captured Hernandez’s attention the most.

“Here are these two guys – these two Black men, tall and handsome and wearing hats,” Hernandez said. “Urbane, witty and charismatic.”

“You instantly loved them – there was no way you didn’t,” Hernandez said.

Childhood in Louisiana

The brothers grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They loved playing soccer and basketball.

“That was our main focus as it is for a lot of kids – boys, especially our age – and the culture that we grew up in,” Torrence said.

As teenagers, they started playing guitar. They say the music played around the house resonated with them the most.

From the soulful melodies of Stevie Wonder to the catchy rhythms of Earth, Wind and Fire, they soaked in every note, infusing their own compositions with a kaleidoscope of musical influences that they carry with them today.

“I think that really helped us to create our own palette of things that we like today,” Thurman said. “With most artists, you create your own style out of the things that you like, and you can only like things that you’re exposed to. So, that was really what we heard a lot growing up.”

But the path toward music wasn’t always crystal clear for Torrence and Thurman. Attending Southern University and then LSU, the brothers studied mechanical engineering and business marketing before they realized that music was their true calling.

“At one point I wanted to be an engineer,” Torrence said. “Crazy, right?”

“We really didn’t have a plan to have a straight career path going in,” he continued. “We just knew we wanted to have a little bit more freedom of time to make our own decisions and work for ourselves, and that meant using the gifts that we had.”

Move to Austin

The brothers moved from Louisiana to Austin in 2022. It was a journey that required the brothers to adjust financially. “The cost of living is way lower” in Louisiana, Thurman said, but Austin allowed the brothers more opportunities to pursue music.

Their first booking was at the Continental Club, where they opened up for Tameca Jones. A trailblazer in the world of R&B, Jones made a name for herself as the “Queen of Austin Soul” with a longtime residency at the Continental Club.

“We didn’t know what the future had in store for us, but we just knew that we wanted to do well,” Torrence said. “That was really our first entry into the city of Austin.”

What sets THEBROSFRESH apart from other local acts in the scene is their ability to mix southern hip-hop with funk and R&B, making it hard to pigeonhole them. They have created a sound all their own while embracing a cowboy-esque sartorial style when they take the stage.


In 2011, the brothers started Tankproof, a nonprofit organization that teaches children to swim and gives away food to those in need.

“We knew the stereotypes at the time: Black people don’t swim,” Torrence said. “So, we do the research and understand that Black people really don’t swim, and here’s the reasons why because of it.”

Swimming stands out as one of the sports with the least diversity in the country. Only about 2% of about 300,000 year-round swimmers identified as African American or Black, according to a 2021 report from USA Swimming.

To get their idea off the ground, the brothers initially started selling tank-tops to raise money to buy slots at a local swim school in Louisiana. The first year garnered enough money to sponsor swim lessons for 60 children. The following year, 120 children were given the opportunity to take lessons. In Tankproof’s fifth year, the organization was made an official 501(c)-3 non profit organization and gave the gift of swim lessons to hundreds of kids.

Since its launch, Tankproof has expanded to Austin, Nashville, Seattle and Brooklyn. The organization also teamed up with Keep Austin Fed. Most Saturday mornings, the brothers help distribute organic groceries.

“We’ve done over 10 tons of food distributed alone last year,” Torrence said. “We’re on track to do that same number this year, if not more.”

DeShawn Morrison, an Austin-based rapper who goes by the name SHXWNFRESH, is a childhood friend of THEBROSFRESH and regularly volunteers with Tankproof.

Forming connections with kids, watching them grow and “not seeing them hurt or in jail” has been the most rewarding aspect of Tankproof, Morrison said. Not only has the organization brought him a sense of gratitude, but his involvement in it led him to learn to swim at the age of 18. 

“It is a great thing that we’re able to do,” Torrence said. “It’s become my anchor, my grounding, the thing I look forward to.”

If success is a staircase, it’s a power-building journey that has allowed THEBROSFRESH to  grow a devoted audience and to uncover more about themselves as artists and individuals along the way.

“As long as you keep stepping, you’re making progress,” Thurman said. “If it’s an inch, if it’s six feet, if it’s a mile – it’s progress.”

“As you’re climbing, you’re building the strength to sustain,” Torrence added. “My legs are getting stronger with every step, that’s how we like to look at it.”

THEBROSFRESH and volunteer members of Tankproof give out fresh produce from Trader Joe’s at their weekly East Austin food distribution. Anissa Sanchez/Reporting Texas